My vice is professional wrestling. My grandfather watched it when I was a boy, and so Saturday nights at 6 p.m. became “appointment viewing” for me. Of course, when I watch today I recognize there’s a script involved, and these are showpeople as much as athletes.
So: one job becomes How to present the subject in such a way that the reader, who might be assumed not to have much beyond a basic apprehension of said subject, will still feel invited to read the poem? That’s why I mention Barthes without quoting him; I want to leave it and go on.
Anyway—hope you’ll like the following example. Let me know if you try this.
After Roland Barthes
Fans who chant at TV-wrestling matches
beg their audience with that camera they love
like no sweating, bloody figure from
some Roman circus gone quite, quite
mad on growth hormones and applause
from those who know or say they know all
this is scripted like dance.
From ringside, a few share
their small laugh because so many
simply don’t get the joke
as it pours from razor-cuts and fingernails
while men and women take the catwalk
writ huge. In any case, it’s always
the camera anyway, one red light
staring pitiless across whatever room
or skyline under God, their one
true recordist: I was here;
take down my name if not what I know
to be true about the world
past here, down in my home where
everything is sacred, even the profane
and miserable. We’re everyplace,
you’ve known our names for decades.
Here’s our camera’s pass for you to remember.